Faith Like Jello

Three Translations of Joshua 3:5

  • Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”, NIV 

  • Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”, NLT

  • Joshua told the people, ” Make yourselves acceptable  to worship the LORD, because he is going to do some amazing things for us.”, CEV

 

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The three translations of the same verse in Joshua each contributes a thought that adds to the whole.  Very often we need to make a comparison like this to speed our understanding.  There is a common theme of spiritual preparation.  Also anticipated is a direct intervention by God Himself.

Joshua is charged with not only the physical, but spiritual condition of the people.  He has sensed that God is going to amaze everyone, and He is on the verge of taking this mass of people through the river and into the Promised Land.  This will be the fulfillment of an awesome covenant promise.

Joshua has taken the initiative.  He declares the need of the people to prepare.  They are about to be led by God.  He builds anticipation for the grand things imminently approaching.  But the Israelites have got to prepare.  They must get ready.  Effort needs to be made. 

We have a strong tendency to see God’s promises apart from our efforts to prepare for them.  We think God saves us by grace.  But a faith that doesn’t work, cannot save.

“We are not made righteous by doing righteous deeds; but when we have been made righteous we do righteous deeds.” –Martin Luther

We cohabit with a Holy God who is like a strange roommate insists on sharing everything.  (Everything He does, in some way He does for us.)  “He picks up the tab” for everything!  Joshua, on the other hand, has 12 hours to get Israel ready.  The people must adjust.  He declares that everyone make themselves decent, to cleanse themselves from sin and give themselves to God.  Israel must do some things to get ready.

We must not enervate our faith to turn it into some religious jello— a blob with no backbone.  Our faith must work, and sweat.  If it doesn’t, we are in trouble.  I’m thrilled to be saved by grace through faith.  It is a precious marvel to me.  But I must remember that the grace that saves is a grace that works.  I don’t want my faith to be jello faith.  I want it to be a living faith.

“As in the candle I know there is both light and heat, but put out the candle, and they are both gone.”  Unknown

Come Dear One, and Find Pasture

eyeofjesus

 

“I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture.” 

John 10:9

A more wonderful truth could not be told!  I so often struggle with my own mental illness, especially with an assurance of salvation.  I guess I think that it can’t be this good.  Jesus is the door.  The entry point we come to when we are really looking.  We must traverse the threshold to find eternal life.

Pasture now can now be found.  Once we touch base with Him, we can proceed in our quest for rich pasture.  You might say that we become qualified to locate that which are soul craves and needs.  His presence gives us a spacious freedom.

Philosophy and religion are methodologies which many try to work for them.  People do their best, but the door is closed.  There is no other way in.  If the door is closed, none can open.  Access is restricted to those who come through the door.

There exists a certain latitude to those who enter through the door.  A liberty exists for those who come in properly.  We are free to come and go, as it suits us.  Once we enter through Jesus, life opens up and we can live out outrageous lives of graceful choices.

We are so blessed!  Through the influence of Jesus Christ, and His active intervention on our behalf, doors are open to us that were once securely closed.  We have become available to all that is beyond.  It calls to us, and we enter the rich, young day.  We have become, the children of faith.

ybic, Bryan

Thoughts on the Mercy of God

A Liturgical Christian’s Understanding of Mercy

Bryan’s note: As I travel the internet I occasionally find something out of the ordinary.  Something that stands out and blesses me.  The following text is a wonderfully precise definition and application of God’s mercy.  I hope it blesses you the way it blessed me.

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Many people remember the Russian couple, the Rosenbergs, who were tried in court for treason against the United States. The trial was a long and bitter one. As the final sentence was pronounced, the lawyer for the Rosenbergs cried out, “Your Honor, what my clients ask for is justice!”

Judge Kaufman replied, “What the court has given them is what they ask,  justice! What they really want is mercy. But mercy is something this court has no right to give them.”

The One who has the right to give mercy is God.

The Theme of God’s Mercy

This is brought out in the Gospel reading of the Pharisee and the Publican. “God, be merciful to me the sinner,” prayed the Publican. His only plea was for mercy, Kyrie Eleison!  Without this prayer Christianity would be a philosophy, a history, a code but not a religion that saves.

The same theme of God’s mercy is expressed again in the Gospel lesson of the Prodigal Son. Listen to the words of the following hymn from the vesper service of the Prodigal Son:

“As the Prodigal Son I come to you, merciful God. I have wasted my whole life in a foreign land; I have scattered the wealth which You gave me, O Father.

“Receive me in repentance, O God, and have mercy upon me.”

One of the most beautiful examples of God’s mercy is the prodigal son, who leaves home, wastes all his father’s resources in sin, ends up living with pigs, remembers his father, repents, and returns home where he is embraced by the waiting father, who declares a feast to celebrate his return. That is God’s mercy.

The same theme of mercy is emphasized again in the Gospel reading which deals with the second coming of Christ. Listen to the words of the following hymn from the Orthros:

“Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy upon me. I cry to you, when you come with your angels to give to every person due return for his/her deeds.”

From the Matins’ Services of Lent
 After the Gospel reading at matins on each Sunday during Lent, we hear the following beautiful hymns of repentance:

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-Giver …But in your compassion purify me by the loving kindness of your mercy.

“When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am, I tremble at the fearful day of judgment, but trusting in Your loving-kindness, like David I cry out to You. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy.”

These hymns are preceded by the reading of Psalm 51, one of the most used psalms in Orthodox worship services. In this Psalm, David asks God’s mercy for his sins and proclaims that God’s steadfast love and mercy are greater than the sins of His creatures:

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love. According to Thy abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51.1-2) .

From the Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
 Another place where the call to God for mercy is heard during the first week of Lent is in the penitential canon of St. Andrew of Crete sung each evening during compline. Listen to some of the hymns:

“I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned against you.
Be merciful to me though there is no one whose sins I have not surpassed.
I cry to You, O Lord: Have mercy, have mercy on me!
When You come with Your angels to give due reward to each person for his deeds.

“I have sinned as no other person before,
I have transgressed more than any other, O Lord.
Before the Day of Judgment comes be merciful to me, O Lover of Man.

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!”

David once showed us the image of true repentance in a psalm he wrote exposing all that he had done:

“Be merciful to me and cleanse me!” he wrote,

“For against You only have I sinned, the God of our fathers.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!
I have distorted Your image, O Savior, and broken Your commandments.
The beauty of my soul has been spoiled, and its light extinguished by my sins.”
in David’s words, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.”

“But have pity on me and,”

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!
Return! Return! Uncover what is hidden!”

“Say to God who knows all things:
‘You are my only Savior and know my terrible secrets.’
Yet in David’s words I cry to You:
‘Be merciful to me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.'”

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me!”

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7124